This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

What the hive needs for winter food

I get asked this time of year what is the hive setup for honey in a hive. A hive going to winter needs the following honey stores.
Top box - the top box should be pretty much full of honey. Eight full frames of honey and one partially full frame. A partial frame of honey is important for this reason. In January when the bees need to transition between the lower box and the upper box, the bees need to move up. Bees don't like to move up onto cold honey frames. By having a partial frame, (located around the middle of the top box), the bees will easily move up on the few empty cells of the partial frame.
 The empty cells can easily be warmed by the bees to make the move up. As some of the bees move up, they will come in contact with the cold honey. They will be able to warm the honey for the bee clusters consumption. Soon more bees will join them and the bees will have more and more warm honey for their consumption.
 Middle or bottom box - In a perfect world this box should have about four frames of honey in the box. This amount of honey will give the bees enough food stores to last into January when the bees move up. If this box is light on honey, the bees may move up into the top box too soon and there is a possibility of hive starvation from premature consumption of their top box winter stores.
 Winter patties or candy boards can be added when the winter covers are put on the hive. These emergency food stores should not be added until the winter covers are put on the hive.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Robbed out hive

This pic shows one of a beekeepers hives being robbed. It was her strongest hive. For some reason robbing started and never stopped. The hot days we just experienced was a contributing factor. Hot days brought all kinds of bees, wasps and hornets to the table. The hive was overcome and died. There were not many dead bees inside but the combs inside were badly shredded from the robbers attacking the honey in the comb. This was a split with a new queen this year. The hive may have had a high mite count and the population was starting to crash, making it an easy target for robbing.
Hive being robbed

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Time to finish pre winter work

This is a heads up. October first is one week away. For some of us, it was August just yesterday and now it is almost October. This fall is moving too fast.
 There is work to finish up now before it gets too cool.
Mite treatments. If mite treatments have not been done and a beekeepers wants to still do it, the miticide of choice should be ApiVar.
 Now with the cooler weather coming on, several mite treatments would not be effective. ApiVar is a contact strip. The strips are put in for 42 days and have to be removed after the treatment is finished. That would be removing the strips around mid November. The strips must be removed. The strips cannot be left in the hive.
 Feeding, as the weather gets cooler into the 40's, feeding can get more difficult. When syrup gets cold, the bees will not take the syrup very well. If feeding is still needed, feed now with 2:1 heavy syrup sugar water or ProSweet syrup.
 The advantage here is ProSweet. The bees will fill the frames with ProSweet and no other work is needed by the bees.
 The bees need to convert sugar water to honey. As it cools off, late feeding sugar syrup becomes tougher for the bees. The ability to have the time too convert the sugar water to honey becomes a greater challenge.
 Beekeepers are in the home stretch with their season. Time to get the chores done to help the bees survive the rigors of winter.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


This is the time of year beekeepers need to get their feeding done as fast as possible.
 To get the feed in a hive quickly, a few different fall feeding methods can be used.
Beekeepers can use multiple pails on a hive. Three feeder pails can be put right on top of the top bars of the top box. It is warm now and there is 50,000 bees in the hive. So beekeepers can take advantage of this by feeding multiple feeders to get the feed in fast. The bees can empty three gallons from the feeder pails in three to four days.
 Using a hivetop feeder is another way to feed a large quantity of syrup to a hive. A hive top feeder holds four gallons of syrup. A larger of number of bees have access to the syrup and the bees can put the four gallon away in about three to four days.
 Feeding ProSweet is the best fall food. ProSweet is similar to honey and the bees take it down and put it into the frames. The do not have to do anything to the ProSweet. The bees put it into the cells in the frame and they are done.
 With 2:1 sugar water, the bees have to dehumidify the sugar water and convert it to honey. Which takes time and energy.
 To compare, a gallon of ProSweet is one gallon of food that the bees get. A gallon of sugar water is by my estimate about 75% of a gallon of food after the syrup is dehumidified and converted into honey.
 three feeder pails on the top bars for fall feeding 

empty box surrounding feeder pails

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bear getting sneaky

This bear was able to reach through an electric fence with a paw. He tried to pull the hive to the fence but it tipped over and he was unsuccessful.  I was told that the bees were not pleasant when being "saved" by the beekeeper.
 Bears will reach in fences, tunnel under the wires, and climb a tree to jump into the fenced bee yard.  Beekeepers beware. This was in the east metro.

Bear reaching through the electric fence. Photo by D. Meyers

Monday, September 11, 2017

All Mite Away Quick Strips on sale

We have all mite away quick strips on sale.
2 treatment $12.95 was $14.95
10 treatment $45.00 was $51.95

What is happening on the bee front

As the bee hives start slipping into late summer early fall mode this is whats going on.
 The bees are making winter bees right now. Winter bees have a different physiology than summer bees. Winter bees have the ability to store more fat in their bodies for winter survival.
 Beekeepers have been treating for mites and feeding their bees. Most beekeepers have pulled and extracted their honey. Mite treatments have been completed or are on the hive right now.
 Right now is judgment time. To winter or not to winter, that is the question.
 Beekeepers need to determine if weak colonies should be wintered, combined with other colonies or depopulated in late November.
 To winter, a hive needs at least 8 frames of bees. Meaning if it was say 50 degrees out and you looked at your bees, they would be covering both sides of eight frames. It is hard to to make a judgement when the bees are everywhere in a colony on a warm day, short of it being obvious that they are packed with bees.
 Weak colonies can be combined with other hives. The caution here is that a beekeeper does not want to add bees to an already strong colony. There is such a thing as too many bees. A colony with too many bees will eat their food stores and more than likely starve over the course of winter.
 Two weak colonies can be combined together. One of the queens needs to be killed, then the colonies can be combined with the newspaper method.
 Feeding: Any colonies that are light on food need to be fed NOW. As we move into fall and it starts to cool into the low 40's, the bees will not take down syrup.
 Feed is 2:1 heavy sugar syrup or ProSweet bee feed. With sugar syrup, the bees need to dehumidify it and turn it into honey. This does take effort by the bees.
 Feeding ProSweet is much easier on the bees. The bees can take down the syrup and put it in the cells and they are done. ProSweet is just similar to honey, it has fructose and sucrose.
 These are the late chores that beekeepers need to complete very soon.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mite Treatments

Mite treatments need to put on the hive by around Sept 10th.
Waiting to treat can jeopardize the bees ability to survive. Mites build up with time. The mites can cause irreparable harm to the bees as time goes on. Most bee researchers put around Sept 10th as the latest date to treat for mites.
Join the mite a thon, that is put on by pollinator.org. This is a North American effort to see what the mite load on a massive scale.
Nature's Nectar LLC does sell the Univ of MN mite test kits.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nectar Flow Is Over, Robbing Is Starting

The nectar flow is over for most of us.
 I have heard that robbing is happening to some beekeepers.
   For honeybees, robbing starts with the end of the nectar flow. Robbing from wasps and hornets starts usually around mid to late August.
 Robbing can be a serious issue for beekeepers. The thieves will try to sneak into a hive and take all the food stores. A beekeeper can have a full hive of winter stores and after a week or so of robbing, all of a sudden six frames of honey are gone and emergency feeding is needed to get the food stores back into the hive.
 Robbers can also overcome and weaken or kill colonies to get at their food. The robbers can be your own bees or the neighbors bees.
 What can we do to prevent robbing?
Robbing Screen, are used to prevent robbing. A screened entrance with three entrances. Two doors with metal swing doors to reduce the available entrance. A third entrance at the top of the Robbing screen, that is a smaller entrance with a metal door. There is a metal plate that can be seen on the left side of the screen. This prevents bees from figuring out the top entrance. The robbing screen is attached to the front of the hive by nails, screws or a strap around the hive.

  • Never put open honey or syrup near your hives. After extracting never put wet supers near your hives. The bees will clean them out, but when the supers are clean the robbers will want more. So the robbers now move to your hive. The beekeeper may have a dead hive soon. If you want bees to clean up wet supers, put them on top of the inner cover. The bees will go up through the inner cover hole and clean up the honey and bring it down into the brood box. This prevents getting the robbing started.
  • Robbing at a hive entrance looks like like a frenzy of activity. If you see this frenzy, you need to react to this. If you are not treating with Formic Acid you can put in an entrance reducer at its smallest opening. If you are treating with Formic Acid and have robbing, a robbing screen is a good alternative.  
  •  Keep all syrup inside a hive where it is not available to robbers. Make sure pails are not leaking. When using Hive top feeders,  a rock should be placed on top of the telescoping covers so bees can't sneak under the cover to get to the syrup
Robbing will lessen with cooler temperatures, when the weather limits daytime flying time. A hard freeze will help with the elimination of the wasp and hornets. But for now watch out, the bandits want your food.